“And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you.” Lev. 16:29
As Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, approaches, I’ve been pondering this question: what does it mean to afflict your soul?
Some believe it indicates that we should fast from food and drink. Others say it simply means to humble oneself.
I’ll be honest: fasting from food is a form of affliction for most people, but for me it’s pretty bearable. In fact, most days, my husband has to force feed me just to get me to stop whatever I’m doing and eat. While I do enjoy a good meal (steak and potatoes, anyone?) I often view eating for sustenance as an inconvenience. I dread the thought of having to stop what I’m working on, prepare a meal, and eat it.
Though I do plan to fast on Yom Kippur (as much as is possible for this still-breastfeeding mama), I can’t help but think the phrase “afflict your souls” carries a weightier meaning than simply abstaining from food. At least for me…
The more I turn my heart toward YHWH and realize how important His Torah really is—that it was never done away with, and that our obedience to Him still matters—the stronger my desire to obey Him becomes. Some might mistake this for legalism or “works-based salvation,” but nothing could be farther from the truth. When we realize our true identity—that we are the lost sheep of the house of Israel—following His instructions is no longer impossible, nor optional. It’s delightful!
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” Rom. 7:22
Still, our flesh is weak. Paul continues:
“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Rom. 7:23-25
While fasting from food, and from the desires of our flesh, we in turn seek the spiritual food that feeds our souls:
“…man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of YHWH…” Deut. 8:3
His Word. His Torah. Lived out by Yahshua our Messiah in perfect obedience. He sustains us. He is the bread of life.
Through affliction, we strengthen our minds and our hearts to “love the Lord our God” by keeping His commandments.
This post is day 39 in my 40 Days of Repentance series. Click here to read day 38.